As many of you know, it’s been six and a half years now since I was diagnosed with active multiple myeloma, a relatively rare form of blood cancer. While there is still no cure for this disease, the excellent treatment I received from the Ottawa Hospital (chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant) has helped keep my cancer in remission for over 4 years but as for many of us, the myeloma cells were again detected and multiplying in my blood at the end of 2018, and relapse had occurred. Fortunately a promising new treatment was available just at the right time, and has been working for me, keeping my cancer in check. Then, just as we were about to take a family vacation in March of this year, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.
I am sure this has affected everyone, in many different ways. We have only seen our children and grandchildren outside (and socially distanced) since the middle of March - only virtual hugs and kisses, given my somewhat compromised immune system.
It also means that our annual fundraising event, to increase awareness about Myeloma, work on new treatment options, and ultimately find a cure, is going "virtual". Normally, communities across the country rally for a 5km walk to raise funds for clinical research leading to accelerated access to new, game-changing therapies for Canadians, like the one I started in 2018.
We did not feel it would be safe to hold a conventional walk this year, with a large gathering of people in close proximity. Instead, you (and your friends, family and associates) are invited to join with us and make a donation to Steps to a Cure. The funds raised from our event are shared equally between Myeloma Canada (our national partner) and The Ottawa Hospital, and this year are focused on research on mechanisms of immunotherapy - a promising new approach for treating Myeloma and other types of cancer.
To make a donation and support Team Shepherd, please go to www.stepstoacure.ca . You can also show you support by registering for the event (at the same site) without a donation and participate in your own personal distance challenge, by keep track of how far you walk before September 20th. Myeloma Canada is logging the total distance walked by everyone, as a way of highlighting community support. (If you are doing this in groups with family or friends, please follow recommended safe practices to minimize the risks of COVID infections - see www.myelomacanada.ca for COVID updates).
Thanks for your consideration and support, and making Myeloma matter,
I'm at 71 km of 100 km.